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Battlefield 3 Beta Performance Testing and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: EA

More Results! GeForce GTX 460, Radeon HD 5850, GeForce 9800 GT (Low)

So our first results were pretty popular and as expected everyone wants us to test the game on THEIR hardware as well.  Obviously we can't address everyone but I did have time this afternoon to test a few new cards to throw into the mix: the GeForce GTX 460 1GB, Radeon HD 5850 1GB and even a much older GeForce 9800 GT 512MB card (circa 2008).  

Both the GTX 460 and HD 5850 card were run at the same settings as the previous cards earlier in this performance evaluation: 1920x1200 and Ultra quality settings.  The 9800 GT would have none of that (as we expected) and as such you'll see some big fat zeros across the board for it.  Let's take a quick look at the results:

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The indoor results for these cards aren't too impressive as we only just barely break the 30 FPS mark with minimums in the high teens.  Compared to the HD 6870 score (34.3 FPS) and the GTX 560 Ti (42.7 FPS) both of these older generation cards are proving to be less than ideal. 

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The outdoor scores do go down to the mid-20s for the average frame rate making this pretty much less than playable for a high speed shooter.  Obviously you can back off on the quality settings (don't forget to restart the game) and get some added performance that way, but for the best experience in BF3 in terms of visual fidelity you are going to want to upgrade some hardware. 

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You noticed I glossed over the 9800 GT results - I was able to get average frame rates in the mid-30s with it at much lower (1680x1050, Low quality) and would have likely preferred to drop another resolution setting to get a smoother FPS experience.  But obviously, even though we were able to achieve some 30+ frame rates, the image quality does take a noticeable dive at the Low settings.

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Here are a few examples, and be sure to compare them to the screenshots we took here on the Ultra quality settings on higher end hardware. 

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Obviously avoiding the "Low" settings is what you want but if you can't afford an upgrade now, at least you know can get by.  But if you do take a look at those Ultra screenshots you can what quality of gameplay you would likely be moving up to if you do decide to shell out the cash for a new GPU.  I really think that a good target for most of our readers would be the "High" settings and as such we plan on putting together a "guide" of sorts with recommended components at a few different resolutions.  (Coming soon!)

We have more testing coming soon hopefully including results from the Caspian Border map that includes 64 players and vehicles!!  Stay tuned!

September 28, 2011 | 11:39 AM - Posted by ZackJ (not verified)

Thanks Ryan for your day 1 review, I along with the community greatly appreciate this at the time. I can't wait to hop on BF3 come Thursday to test out my GTX460. I could get 45 - 70fps at 1680 x 1050 on Battlefield Bad Company 2 at max so looks like BF3 is going to be pretty rough on my card. Can't wait to see more test from you and your crew.

September 28, 2011 | 02:34 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Hopefully I'll be able toss in a GTX 460 today and post some updated results.

September 28, 2011 | 06:11 PM - Posted by 72VirginExpress (not verified)

I have the following specs:
Asus M4A79XTD EVO
AMD Phenom II 1100T Black Edition
EVGA GTX 460 1024 GDDR5
8.0 Ghz 2X4 Kingston DDR3 1600Mhz Barracuda 1-TB

Had absolutely no problems running all settings on high with no noticeable glitches...except for ability to bind mouse settings.

You can contact me if you are looking for more information.

Good bit of research you have done to date....keep it up. First time visit to your site, not last I should think.

September 28, 2011 | 12:52 PM - Posted by mark (not verified)

man the new metro benchy.....nice article

September 28, 2011 | 01:58 PM - Posted by AMDftw (not verified)

I used the 11.9 cat for my dual 5870. I didn't have any problems with mine. I was getting detween 45-70 fps@ 1920*1200. I didn't try my 3 monitor setup tho. I will later on tonight. My set up is. AMD 1090t@4.1 ghz 8gb gskill 2000 mhz flare. 2x120gb ocz ssd in raid. Ga-990fxa-ud7 mobo. 2xga5870 Gpu. 1200watt psu.

September 28, 2011 | 02:34 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

At first I was very surprised by your results then I saw you were using TWO Radeon HD 5870s. That falls much more in line with my thinking.

September 28, 2011 | 03:02 PM - Posted by Paul (not verified)

I also am using 2 5870s with an i7 920 @3.2. I am using the 11.9 driver also and am getting 55-85 FPS on Ultra setting @1920*1200

Pretty happy and the 11.10 driver is supposed to be better with cf support for bf3.

September 28, 2011 | 01:59 PM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

AMD just released a new video driver for the BF3 beta today and nvidia just did the same a few days ago. i think you need to retest things with the updated drivers. Awesome review Ryan.

September 28, 2011 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you read page one where Ryan tells us the specs of the PC being used he says and I quote ”We used the latest drivers from both NVIDIA and AMD that were released specifically yesterday for Battlefield 3: 285.38 for NVIDIA and 11.10 Preview for AMD.”

September 28, 2011 | 03:11 PM - Posted by rahul (not verified)

Hi Ryan, thanks for putting so much effort into testing BF3!
I was wondering, if you could do some CPU performance tests? Perhaps testing scaling with number of cores or frequency?

September 28, 2011 | 03:16 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I would like to do that and see how frequency and CPU cores helps. May not be until tomorrow sometime that I can sort of play with that.

September 28, 2011 | 03:32 PM - Posted by M3rc Nate (not verified)

I just wanted to say that i have a Q9550 (3.6ghz) and a 6950 2Gb Flashed to 6970 shaders (BF3 Beta Drivers installed). I am getting 50 average outdoors in the park (never dipping below 40) and indoors the average is about 80, sometimes as high as 90FPS.
I game settings are on auto, which has res at 1920x1080, Ultra, 16x AA, and everything on High and Ultra.
To be honest i was expecting much lower frame rates. BC2 and the Witcher 1 had worse frame rates than im getting in BF3. Im loving it though, and im buying a second 6950 to Crossfire.

Odd however is my friend whos using my GTS-250 (512mb) is unplayable in full screen with everything on as low as it can go (at 1920x1080) but he played BC2 on medium everything (same res) and it was smooth.

September 29, 2011 | 09:02 PM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

Hey, I have the exact same setup and I'd be interested in your clocks, timings and voltages as I've little experience with this CPU and OC'ing it. Your help would be most appreciated.

September 28, 2011 | 07:15 PM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

Hi Ryan, i own a i5-2500k @ stock clocks 3.30Ghz...i am planning on overclocking it to 4.5ghz to take advantage of its "K" factor...so my question is...will that increase the fps ingame by much?
and in between...RAM, processor speed, GPU...which might you think will be a dominating factor and by how much?

On a different note Seeing as there isnt much difference between high and ultra except for a little smoothing of textures and the AA...would you kindly put up a performance chart of the cards running on high?

Because if there is a considerable increase in the fps, there might not be any reason to run the game at ultra at all... keeping in mind the comparitively high loss in performance.

any feedback is greatly appreciated :)
and thank you for all your hardwork, really is helping us make important decisions on our purchases.

Thank You :)

September 28, 2011 | 07:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"Overall I think the NVIDIA cards are currently offering just a bit better experience than the AMD cards due to my instability with the HD 6970 and the better multi-GPU scaling being reported with SLI than CrossFire."

How can you say SLI scaling is better than Crossfire scaling when you didn't even test Crossfire? If you're generalizing, that's some pretty bad "scientific" testing.

September 28, 2011 | 07:55 PM - Posted by Jesse (not verified)

I find this funny because the textures in the beta on ALL platforms are around half quality. They aren't even showing you the best graphics yet. Therefore, your benchmarks are a waste of time =P

September 28, 2011 | 08:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

This is incorrect - verified through both GPU vendors and their developer relations teams. That WAS the case in the alpha though.

September 28, 2011 | 08:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You are of course aware that the majority of 'ultra' settings aren't functional yet, and don't do anything.. yes?

September 28, 2011 | 09:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Reference? I am hearing the exact opposite from both NVIDIA and AMD.

September 28, 2011 | 09:27 PM - Posted by Tim (not verified)

Great rundown PcPer. Just gotta wait for the 7900HD's now :(

@durjoy184
Depends what the bottleneck is. What is your graphics card? I play Medal of Honor and had a Q6600@4GHz, with a 5850. when i changed to a 2500K, at stock, it doubled my frames. But still at 4.5GHz, it only added about about 5% more frames

September 29, 2011 | 03:12 AM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

AMD HD6870 stock clocks...i know its a mid-level card...but its all the money i had :\

September 29, 2011 | 09:30 AM - Posted by fuzzynuts69 (not verified)

lol you will be fine!!!

September 29, 2011 | 07:18 PM - Posted by durjoy184 (not verified)

so your saying that i might get a considerable performance boost if i go from 3.3-4.5ghz? :O

and as for ur MOH situation...i think games like those that dont demand much of the cpu....just get overkilled after a stage and cant go any smoother....like...if im playing C0D right now....and play it after 4.5ghz....there wouldnt be any difference at all....but on games like crysis, metro 2033...which are more demanding...it may take effect

i just wanted to make sure of the same for battlefield 3 too before i did any overclocking. :)

September 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM - Posted by HM (not verified)

for the poor folks like me who are still stuck on dual core CPUs, could you disable 2 cores, I mean set affinity to 2 cores only during the game to see the difference (and HT off)?

September 29, 2011 | 02:59 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We might be able to fit that testing in over the next couple of days, sure.

October 2, 2011 | 03:20 AM - Posted by Pablo (not verified)

That would be cool. I'm not really sure if it's worth upgrading to a 6870 while rocking an i5 650.

October 3, 2011 | 02:15 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

I think a visit to ebay might help.
Some serious bargins. Got my 990x there.
(Yip. Was nervous but it arrived and worked a treat.)
I did my brothers dell too. A Core 2 system. Just swapped out the chips,Dual to quad. Ebayed the dual and got some money back. Just need to check your chipset.

September 29, 2011 | 01:28 AM - Posted by Nilbog

Definitely one of the best articles I've ever read, thank you for such an in depth look.

September 29, 2011 | 01:39 AM - Posted by HalloweenJack (not verified)

wouldnt mind seeing the ultara low end results - minimum spec ones , like HD4xxx or 9800GT , or a minimum cpu/ram combo (amd and intel)

September 29, 2011 | 03:21 AM - Posted by scottwd (not verified)

I agree with HalloweenJack, I wouldnt mind seeing the ultara low end results. I play on a nice beefy PC at home and and barely functional one at lunchtimes at work.

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